Vic government to sack controversial council

By Shannon Jenkins

March 17, 2020

Whittlesea Council. Image: Twitter

The Victorian government will move to dismiss Whittlesea City Council following a report that found its governance had “irretrievably collapsed”.

The report from municipal monitor Yehudi Blacher tabled in Parliament on Tuesday found that the council’s “deep divides and personality conflicts have rendered it dysfunctional”.

With five CEOs in five years — including former Victoria Police chief commissioner Simon Overland — and more than $500,000 spent on legal disputes, councillors have failed to provide stability, the report noted.

A former deputy secretary in the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Blacher found the behaviour of councillors has caused significant harm to the council’s administration and reputation. He concluded that the present council cannot deliver the good governance needed by the City of Whittlesea.

Read more: Controversial council run by acting staff following resignation

Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek said Blacher recommended the council be immediately dismissed and replaced with administrators.

“We accept the recommendations,” he said.

“Residents and ratepayers have every right to be deeply disappointed in their council.”

Blacher — who was appointed to oversee the council late last year — recommended administrators be appointed until at least the 2024 general elections for local government. He was appointed after the Local Government Inspectorate had raised concerns over claims of bullying and workplace safety.

Somyurek said an interim administrator would be appointed to ensure the functions of the council continue once the council is dismissed.

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